A faction of former Bangladeshi prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia's party said on Sunday that her sons had been tortured in custody and called for an investigation.
Jatiyatabadi Muktijoddha Dal, a body of veterans of the country's 1971 independence war, said that due to physical and mental torture, Khaleda's younger son Arafat Rahman's chronic asthma had become acute, while her elder son, Tareque, was unable to walk because his spinal cord had been broken.
"Tareque is almost unable to stand up let alone walk on his own. It is only due to physical torture in custody," Sohrab Uddin, the faction's head, told reporters.
Police denied that Khaleda's two sons were tortured. A senior prison official said: "No accused is ever tortured in any of the country's jails."
Doctor Muhammad Yunus, from the government-run Post-graduate Medical College Hospital in Dhaka, checked Tareque's condition on Saturday and confirmed that his spinal cord was broken. He said that the government should send him abroad for treatment.
"Tareque's spinal cord has been broken, causing acute pain. He is also suffering from pain in his hip joints," Yunus told a local television channel.
The faction, which plays an active role in Khaleda's Bangladesh Nationalist Party's decisions and programmes, threatened "tough action" if an investigation was not initiated within 48 hours.
The army-backed interim government, which took charge in January last year following an outbreak of political violence, detained more than 170 key political figures, including Khaleda and her rival, former prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
Tareque was arrested for extortion in March last year while Khaleda and Arafat, a businessman, were arrested for alleged graft in September.
"Tareque and Arafat were in good health when they were arrested, but why are they now ill, I want to know," Khaleda told lawyers and reporters during a court appearance last week.
Hasina was paroled for eight weeks early this month and was allowed to go to the United States for medical treatment.
Among the detainees, more than 50 people including former ministers have been convicted and sentenced to various jail terms for corruption.
Last Mod: 22 Haziran 2008, 19:55